Friday, September 9, 2011

Teaching as Service

I was reviewing the Ansuara Teacher Training Manual I came across a section that I wanted to share. John did such a great job explaining the role of a teacher, the importance or self practice, and important qualities to embrace. My childhood dream has always been to be an adventure guide, so I also very much liked his compassion to being an adventure guide.
Ansuara Teacher Training Manual 11th edition by John Friend, Teaching as Service (15-16):

Being a yoga teacher is like being an adventure guide leading a courageous group on a challenging journey to a beautiful, secluded place of transformation. The adventure guide has the responsibility to lead each trekker safely to this magical place. The long trek through wild unknown terrain demands faith, perseverance, and an ability to flow with rapidly changing circumstances. The group must trust the guide, since he is the only one among them who has the experience of traveling successfully to this place. He knows the quickest and safest routes, and the best way to deal with obstacles-- both anticipated and unexpected-- they meet on the way. The journey is often intense and frightening, and the trekkers may experience fear, discouragement, physical discomfort, and the desire to quit and turn back. Everyone is challenged--physically, emotionally, and psychologically. The guide must use all his interpersonal skills, experience, and technical knowledge to lead the group successfully and happily to the destination. His success depends on his ability to connect energetically with the body, the mind, and the heart of each trekker.

However, each of the trekkers is unique-- physically, mentally, and emotionally. This presents a perplexing challenge for the guide, since he realizes that the techniques and abilities he used in the past to make the journey alone, don't always work for everyone. Furthermore, instructions and directions that work for one person might not work for another. The guide must summon all his inner qualities, skills, and experience to constantly create new ways to motivate, inspire, and educate each individual at her own level to make the journey successfully. There is a direct relationship between the depth of the guides experience-- the number of times he has made the journey successfully and the number of people he has guided-- and his cultivation of confidence, maturity, authority. The group intuitively senses his level of experience, and their trust in him is directly proportional. His experience provides the guide with strong empathy for the trekkers. Since he has made the journey in the past, he knows what they are going through, and this helps him lead much more effectively. An experience, effective leader deliberately cultivates his ability to connect energetically with a wide variety of trekkers.

Aside from drawing on experience, the guide must also use technical knowledge to be repeatedly successful in his journeys. Technical knowledge helps make the journey easier, quicker, and safer. It is gained through formal training and, to a lesser degree, through self-discovery. If the guide has insufficient technical knowledge, he could put the group in danger. However, by itself, technical knowledge is insufficient for a successful, enjoyable journey. Many trekkers would certainly quit if the guide used only dry technical instruction to guide them. The guide must blend his technical knowledge with interpersonal qualities and social skills to make the journey fun and uplifting.

In a similar manner, a great yoga teacher must combine sensitivity, creativity, and inspiration with technical knowledge and experience, to help facilitate an inner unfolding in the student. It is the fusion of these qualities and skills that give the teacher the capability to connect energetically with the body, mind, and heart of the student. And it is through this connection that a great teacher is able to lead the students to the magical place where every one's heart opens naturally and where everyone feels empowered and fulled with self-love. Truly, the service of teaching yoga is a divine privilege. Each student is a gift!

at the bottom of the page I wrote "Wonderful, this is why I teach yoga 12/2009"

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